Libyan youth block a road with burning tires in Libya’s eastern coastal city of Benghazi on September 12, 2020
Abdullah al-Thinni’s government in eastern Libya resigned, responding to the calls of protesters who took to the streets of Benghazi, al-Bayda, Tobruk, Shahat, al-Marj, and the marginalized areas of the south, while the government of Fayez al-Sarraj ignored the angry voices in the west of the country, appointing a number of warlords to sovereign positions, elaborating a policy of hiding behind the weapons of militias capable of suppressing anyone calling for the overthrow of the Tripoli authorities.
A tragic situation grips all of Libya. The people are suffering from a comprehensive collapse of basic services; there is no water, electricity, gas for cooking, fuel, financial liquidity in banks, no salaries that arrive on time, and health institutions are collapsing in the face of the Corona virus. In addition, the western region is plagued by unruly militias, mercenaries, in consecration of the Turkish occupation and the Brotherhood’s plots to achieve more penetration into state institutions.
In the south, it is not possible to talk about the existence of a state. The suffering endured for nine years has been absolute. The local population live as if they are in another country, outside of time and space, and despite the vast wealth that is below and above the ground, none of it belongs to the people of Fezzan, which seems just tracts of quicksand and thirsty oases in a remote corner of the Sahara Desert, where only smugglers cross borders to steal gold and antiquities.
In the east of the country, the situation is different, as the army was able to rededicate the concept of the state, and found great support from the people of Cyrenaica.
But the politicians in Tripoli serve their own interests, enjoying profits they receive from corruption. This increased social tension has contributed to obstructing political solutions, and even the process of liberating the country from militias and terrorist groups.
A member in the House of Representatives and the State Consultative Council receives a monthly salary of 16 thousand dinars, along with housing, transportation, funds for travel and residence abroad, and a pension salary of 80 percent of the original salary, that is, more than 12 thousand dinars, and they obtain a privilege of exchange in foreign currencies at the same rate diplomats receive, while a teacher’s salary does not exceed 500 dinars, or about $ 90 at the parallel exchange rate, and they usually wait for months to receive it.
The rampant corruption in the joints of the Libyan state, and in the governments of the West and the East, is a systematic corruption from which non-politicians and the majority of people do not benefit, and it is the real reason for the continuation of the conflict. The current politicians do not want the country to arrive at a solution to the crisis, nor elections that they fear will push them out of power, influence and loose money that wanders easily between pockets and bank accounts at home and abroad.
As in Iraq after 2003, after 2011, Libya turned into a mafia state, which prompted the former UN envoy, Ghassan Salame, to say that it was witnessing the largest looting operation, which creates a new millionaire every day, while the people face poverty, destitution, disease, lack of services and insecurity, especially in the western region.
In 2019, Libya ranked No. 168 out of 180 countries on the Transparency International list, with only 18 points out of 100, according to the international organization’s standard. In the last four years, under the reconciliation government, the numbers ranged between 14 and 18 points, despite the fact that the government claims to be legitimate and is supported by the United Nations.
During the past few years, at least 200 billion dollars were spent without having any impact on the land or the lives of the people. Services provided by the previous government, especially in the field of water, electricity and infrastructure, were completely destroyed. From areas filled with life, Libya became a den of ghosts, as a result of war and the complete darkness that has become the new normal in a country that is supposed to be one of the richest countries in the region.
When demonstrators in Tripoli went out to denounce this situation and demand their rights, Fayez al-Sarraj directed his armed militias to terrorize them in Martyrs Square and the neighbourhoods and suburbs of the capital, and the Brotherhood assigned mercenaries to penetrate the movement, to strike them down from within. But in the eastern region the matter differed as the army recommended protection of the protesters, and therefore, there was no clash between security forces and the demonstrators except in a limited context, when infiltrators were discovered trying to utilize the spontaneous popular movement to serve the agendas of political Islam, which still has some supporters despite the elimination of its militias and armed terrorist gangs.
The most important lesson given by the eastern Libyan movement is that there is no alternative to the presence of a national army to protect the people, using its influence in the public interest, as well as the existence of a legislative reference to which the executive authority returns. However, in the west of the country, there is no army; only conflicting militias, and no legislative institution. Al-Sarraj’s government did not gain the confidence of Parliament and governs under conditions of martial law.
Abdullah al-Thani submitted his resignation to the House of Representatives after realizing that there was no way for him to continue in his position, while al-Sarraj was still holding power, tied to militias, mercenaries and the Turkish occupier.
The Libyan people will not remain silent about their stolen rights and wealth, and will not accept the continuation of living under the weight of the corrupt who turned back decades of progress, overthrew their dreams of prosperity and robbed them of hope for a decent life. They will take back the life their ancestors knew before the Nakba.